87P! That’s how much customers hit by mobiles mayhem will be awarded in compensation
MOBILE giant O2 is facing demands to pay meaningful compensation to millions of customers after some victims of a disastrous network meltdown were offered just 87p.
Experts say the company should be paying £10 per head to the 32million customers involved, plus extra for those who suffered greater losses.
But last night O2 announced a goodwill package of complex discounts and incentives that will be worth pennies to many of those who lost out.
On Thursday customers were cut off from the internet, emails, maps and other services for approaching 24 hours following a software problem suffered by Britain’s second biggest mobile network. The service was only fully restored at around 6am yesterday.
Some 25million O2 users were affected, along with another seven million from Tesco, Sky, GiffGaff and Lycamobile who run services over the same network.
Now angry customers have bombarded O2’s social media systems with demands for compensation for the loss of service, with many threatening to leave the company.
The mobile giant responded by offering to credit its pay monthly customers with two days of monthly airtime subscription charges. Consumer experts at Which? said this was likely to be worth between 87p and £2.33.
Alex Neill, of Which?, said: ‘Connectivity is now such an integral part of our lives, it is time for the regulator to consider whether it should introduce automatic compensation for the inconvenience caused by severe outages.’
Consumer complaints expert Helen Dewdney said only a payment of £10 per head would be enough to placate customers and prevent a mass exodus.
She said: ‘A figure of £10 is probably more than most people lost in terms of missing out on one day of service, but it would show goodwill and fewer people are likely to leave.’ She said O2 would be able to offset the cost by making a claim against its equipment supplier Ericsson, which has admitted responsibility for the outage.
The telecoms regulator Ofcom has drawn up plans for automatic compensation of £8 per day to consumers whose home broadband services are cut off. However, this regime, which comes into effect next year, does not apply to mobile phone services.
The outage was a blow to a number of customers that rely on smartphones with internet access – such as Uber drivers, who require a sat-nav to find their way, and those who use technology to monitor various health conditions.
Mark Evans, chief executive of O2, apologised for the service failure and said the company would ‘find an O2 way of making it up to our customers’.
Ericsson said the problem occurred because a usage certificate on a key piece of software that runs the mobile networks had expired.
The firm’s president Börje Ekholm said such certificates ‘ act as authenticators for machine identities – authorising machine-to-machine connections and communications’.
‘Such an integral part of our lives’
From yesterday’s Mail